Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?

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Nobody wants to sustain injuries in an accident, but it happens daily. These victims often face significant financial difficulties because of their injuries. Insurance companies are responsible for paying compensation for these damages caused by their policyholder, but their offers are typically lower than what the victims deserve.

Many injured people choose to hire an attorney to represent them. Personal injury lawyers have experience with stingy insurance companies and work to negotiate an acceptable settlement offer. Should you accept the insurance company’s final settlement offer or take your case to trial? Each choice has benefits, and your attorney will present them to you so you can make an informed decision.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

Negligent people can harm others, and the victims seek compensation for the resulting damages through a personal injury claim. A valid personal injury claim requires you to prove the at-fault person was negligent:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care.
  • They failed to fulfill that duty of care due to negligence.
  • You sustained injuries as a result.
  • Those injuries caused damages (financial and otherwise).

Whether a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, or other types of accidents caused your injuries, the guilty party probably has some form of liability insurance. Your personal injury claim requests that the insurance company compensate you for damages.

What Is a Settlement?

Most personal injury claims settle without involving a trial. Attorneys and insurance companies negotiate to come up with a satisfactory compensation settlement offer to the injured party.

A settlement is an agreement between interested parties that ends disputes and voluntarily avoids litigation, or a trial. In a personal injury claim, the liable insurance company agrees to pay the injured person an agreed-upon amount of compensation for damages.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Settling Your Personal Injury Claim vs. Taking it to Trial?

Like most things, settling your claim has benefits and drawbacks. If you’re unable to reach a satisfactory settlement agreement, you can pursue your claim in court. You and your attorney will need to weigh these to determine the best course of action.

Certainty

When you accept a settlement offer, you’re certain that you will receive compensation. If your case goes before a jury, you may lose your case and won’t obtain any payment for your damages.

Choice

When negotiating with insurance companies, you and your lawyer can choose to accept or reject multiple settlement offers. You have the opportunity to negotiate a higher offer than what the insurance company provides.

In a trial, you have no say in how much compensation you accept. The jury or judge will determine the amount.

Compensation Amount

When you take your case to trial, you may receive a more significant monetary award than you’d get in a settlement. However, you’re risking not getting any compensation.

Legal Costs

Because settlements are usually faster than trials, they typically cost less. Trials take lots of preparation time for your attorney in addition to the time spent during the trial. You’ll be responsible for paying these and any court fees regardless of whether you win the case.

Permanence

When you accept a settlement offer, it is permanent. You’ll have no recourse if your medical condition worsens and your expenses rise as a result.

Stress

Although it is stressful working through negotiations toward an acceptable settlement, trials can cause much more stress. Trials take longer, cost more, and there’s no guarantee that you will win.

Time

Your lawyer will probably negotiate a favorable settlement offer in an average of three to six months. Every claim is different, so that time frame isn’t accurate for every case. Trials typically take twice as long as settlement negotiations.

When Do You Need To Decide?

Every state has statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, and these can vary between one and six years. In most instances, you lose your right to a trial if you don’t file a lawsuit before that time. There are specific exceptions that vary by state. Ask your personal injury lawyer how long you have before your statute of limitations expires.

You’ll probably initiate a personal injury claim soon after the incident that caused your qualifying injuries. The statute of limitations clock usually starts the day of your accident. Your attorney needs sufficient time to build your case and negotiate a settlement offer before the clock runs out. If you’re unable to reach a satisfactory agreement, you’ll have to decide if you want to file a lawsuit – as long as you do it in time.

What Kinds of Compensation Can You Receive?

State laws govern the types of damages you can obtain in a personal injury claim, so ask your lawyer what your state allows. Generally speaking, victims in these cases can receive three types of damages.

Economic Damages

Those injured due to someone else’s negligence usually face financial consequences. Economic damages pay for qualifying expenses, such as:

  • Bills for medical treatment, medications, necessary medical equipment, rehabilitation, and therapy
  • Wages you lost because you were unable to work
  • Caregiver expenses
  • Property damage, such as repairing or replacing a vehicle

If you have ongoing medical treatments for your injury, your lawyer will consider probable future medical expenses when negotiating your settlement. Be sure to keep receipts and copies of bills because your attorney will need them.

Non-Economic Damages

Most of the time, we think of injuries as physical. However, you can suffer other injuries that have as much impact on your life as the physical ones. Non-economic damages intend to compensate victims for things like:

  • Loss of the enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • PTSD
  • Diminished earning capacity if you’re unable to return to work due to your injuries

These damages aren’t tangible, so they don’t have a specific price tag. The amount you receive can depend on how severely they affect your life.

Punitive or Exemplary Damages

You might receive punitive damages if the defendant’s behavior in causing your injury was despicable, egregious, or malicious. These serve to punish the guilty party and hopefully deter them from repeating that behavior.

Some states, including Michigan, don’t allow punitive damages. However, exemplary damages are available if the defendant was malicious or had a willful disregard for the rights of the victim.

While both of these are similar, their intent is different. The purpose of exemplary damages is to compensate victims because of the defendant’s conduct.

Why Choose Mike Morse Law Firm?

As Michigan’s largest personal injury law firm, Mike Morse has extensive resources to use when building your case. Our attorneys have experience handling many kinds of personal injury cases, and we want to put the knowledge we gained to work for you.

We understand that paying for legal representation is the last thing you need to worry about. Your initial case evaluation is free. If you decide to hire our firm, you won’t pay any fees unless we win compensation for you.

We have offices in Detroit and Southfield for your convenience. We know that accidents don’t always happen during regular business hours, and you need answers now. Contact us 24/7 by calling 855-MIKE-WINS or (855) 645-3946, connecting by live chat, or submitting our online case evaluation form. We’ll assess your circumstances and let you know if you have a valid claim.

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